Category Archives: Coaching

No Unwanted Guests in Your Dining Room!

It’s the time of year when your dining room may get used for holiday dinners and parties.Some of you may have clutter challenges to face before the table can be laid for your Thanksgiving dinner. Others of you may have an uncluttered dining room, but have unknown feng shui challenges because of its contents.

Dining rooms are one of the places in a home where you often find family treasures in the form of inherited furniture, glassware, silverware, serving dishes and china. Have you ever stopped to check out the associations of each piece of furniture and each item in your dining room buffet or corner cupboard? If an item was owned by a family member, it holds the energy of that person. Therefore, it’s as if that person is sharing the space with you every time you enter the room.

Until recently my dining room held a beautiful sideboard, dining room table, and matching chairs, which my parents had acquired when we moved into a lovely old house in Massachusetts when I was eight years old. Those pieces held the energy of South Walpole, Massachusetts, and our time there. They also held the energy of my family of origin and the many shared meals we enjoyed together, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Now I have beautiful table that I inherited from my mother and step-father. It holds the positive energy of precious memories of shared meals with Mom and John. The sideboard, which never fit well in my small dining room, was sold and replaced by a lovely dresser with a marble top. It once belonged to an incredible sales and marketing guru who I admire and who I’ve come to know because for years I was pet sitter for her precious dogs, Gracie and George. The energies of both of those pieces intermingle to make my dining room a warm and lovely place to be.

Inside the dresser are serving dishes and decorative items that belonged to my maternal grandmother, were either given to Bob and me as wedding presents, or were given to me by special friends. Each item holds the positive energy of its previous owner or the giver of the gifts. When I pull those items out, I feel connected to those special people.

Had there been furniture, china and decorative items that belonged to a difficult family member or members, I would have purged them because their negative energy would affect the overall feel of the room as well as interactions between people using the room.

Check out who you have residing in your dining room. Their energy could be affecting your energy and the energy of interactions in that room. Make sure that you keep only those things that remind you of good times, good relationships and that hold loving, positive energies.

This post was excerpted from my new book,  From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year: Your Room-by-Room Home Makeover. If this article motivated you to make some adjustments to your dining room that improved the look and feel of the room, and you want to accomplish the same thing in other areas of your home, check out my book. It will provide you with clutter clearing and feng shui recommendations for every room of your home, complete with a clutter clearing plan at the end of each chapter.

Order your book now, and give it as a Christmas gift to family and friends who want to clear clutter and create homes that look and feel utterly comfortable. Email me at debbie@debbiebowie.com by December 1 to place your order, and each book will be discounted $2 per copy. The cost per book on Amazon will be $16.95. I am currently offering it for $14.95 plus shipping and handling and tax. The total for each book comes to $20.65.

To order, please send me an email with your name, mailing address and the number of books you want to order. Then, mail a check for the amount owed to: Debbie Bowie, 7293 Jay Way, Mechanicsville, VA 23111. If you have any questions about ordering, please call me at 804-730-4991 or email me (address above).

Think of Your Children! Declutter Now!

“I’m leaving it to my children.” Those words hit me right in my heart.

Declutter now! Consider it a gift to your children.

They are the words of people who don’t plan to clear their clutter before they die. Essentially they plan to leave their mess for their children to clean up.

Fortunately most people I work with in hands-on organizing, coaching, and when I speak, feel the opposite. They show up in my life because they want to do something about their clutter. They don’t want to leave behind a nightmare of stuff, most of which would be meaningless to their children.

I tell clients and participants in my speeches that decluttering and reducing the volume of their belongings is the best gift they can give their children. Those of us who have cleaned out a parent’s house know how painful that job is. However, when I make that statement to audiences and clients I often get looks of surprise, as if they hadn’t even considered the impact of that job on their children.

When I moved my mother into assisted living in 2013 and then prepared her house for sale, I had the opportunity to feel just how difficult it is to dismantle a parent’s beloved home. I felt like I was taking apart Mom’s life.

I was lucky because my mother and step-father were not savers. There were very few papers to go through and they had nothing in the attic! However, even with less volume of belongings in the house, the pain I felt as I systematically went from room to room evaluating and packing up everything was excruciating, so very deep. I cried my way through the process, motivated by a strong desire to finish the job in order to stop that deep pain.

Mom and John’s gift to me, however unconscious, was to leave behind far fewer belongings than I usually see in many homes. The volume was small enough that it took my husband and me just two days to go through everything, and one additional day to pack up trucks to take away things that would go to my house and to consignment. Granted, as a professional organizer I was probably able to make faster progress than most people. But, even so, it was such a blessing to get that painful task done in just two weekends.

Look at your home. What will you be leaving for your children? Don’t wait to clear out your clutter. Start now! Life is uncertain. An unexpected illness or injury could prevent you from decluttering if you wait until you are older. Plus, the older you get, the more difficult it will be to do because with age your strength and energy level will diminish.

If the thought of downsizing your stuff strikes terror in your heart because it is an enormous undertaking, don’t despair. There are ways to get the job done with support.

One option is to purchase my new book, From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year: Your Room By Room Home Makeover, coming out in December. You will learn a highly effective clutter clearing process that combines traditional organizing principles and the wisdom of feng shui, specific clutter clearing challenges and solutions for each room, plus have a clutter clearing plan for every room in the house — attic to basement.

Be one of the first to get your copy of From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year by pre-ordering your copy at a reduced rate. Until December 1 you can order the book for just $20.65 including shipping. That is a $2 savings! To order, please send a check to: Debbie Bowie, 7293 Jay Way, Mechanicsville, VA 23111.

The pain of losing a beloved parent is so very deep. Add to that your child’s or children’s obligation to settle your affairs and clear out your living space — a process that is usually overwhelming and stirs up more pain — and it can be an emotional burden beyond belief. From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year can be your guide to get started and systematically downsize and declutter every part of your home. Start now!

Coaching and Organizing Differ

I love coaching, both the coaching I do and the coaching I’ve received. Why? It is the single most

If you want to make positive changes, choose coaching.

powerful process for change I’ve ever experienced with clients and myself.

I’ve worked for years doing hands-on organizing for people (since 1997), a role in which I usually direct the action, make decisions about what to do, and make sure progress is being made. Clients request hands-on organizing because they want me to improve their spaces. There is the possibility for change because as we clear clutter and organize a space, the energy in the space shifts from negative to less negative or positive. It’s a rather passive change process. Although the client may be the recipient of the energy benefits of improving their space, those benefits happen without much ownership by the client. Without ownership of the change process, the client is less likely to commit to maintaining the environmental changes that are made.

Coaching is a learning/action process that helps clients reach their goals. Unlike typical hands-on organizing, in coaching the client is the driver of the process of change. Clients reach out to me because they want something to be different and better in their lives. They want to be different — more productive, less scattered, more aware of what they want and how to get it. They want to change what they are doing so they can get the results they seek.

I partner with my clients to co-create a relationships that make it possible for clients to find their own answers. For coaching to work, the client must be invested in the process of coaching. They have the opportunity to create awareness of who they are, what they’re doing, what they’re thinking, their values, challenge areas and strengths. That information and learning is then leveraged to inform action. With awareness the client and I work together to strategize options for action. I may offer possible strategies, but the client decides what action he/she will take.

Accountability is part of the process of coaching. The client agrees to take specific action between sessions and report his/her progress in the next session. It is his/her opportunity to take their learning into real life practice. I provide accountability and support for the client taking action by inquiring about his/her action in the next session. Whether the client completed the action(s) or not, he/she has the opportunity to learn from whatever was or wasn’t done. With learning and practice change occurs.

Hands-on organizing is very beneficial in the short run. However, if you want real change, if you want to learn to do things differently with a non-judgmental support, coaching is your best option.

Are you curious about what coaching could do for you? Experience the benefits of coaching by scheduling a FREE 30 minute Back on Track phone coaching session with me. You’ll get a risk-free taste of coaching and have the opportunity to learn more about this empowering process for change.

Support Speeds Clearing Out Parents’ Homes

I was recently reminded about how having the assistance of a professional organizer can help

Mom and my step-father, John

adult children face and complete the clearing of a parental residence. I spent 4.5 hours helping a dear friend clear out her old bedroom in the home she grew up in. After a tour of the house to see the reality of the overall project, Carol (name changed to protect the identity of my friend) and I agreed that the best place for us to work together was in her childhood bedroom. She chose that project because it was the part of the house that she most dreaded tackling. I agreed because from our conversation I understood that her bedroom was a place where we were likely to find many things that could stir up strong and perhaps uncomfortable feelings from her past.

This kind of project can keep a person stuck in their clutter clearing process because they intuitively know that they will be taking a mental and emotion trip down memory lane, reviewing their history which is almost always a mixed bag of positive and negative memories that can stir both positive and negative feelings. Carol knew herself so well that she could predict where she might get stuck and flee from a project that had to be done. That type of project is a great place to bring in the support of a professional organizer who has experience working with people in emotionally charged situations.

Clearing out the home of a parent or parents ranks up there as one of the most challenging clutter clearing projects because when you empty a parent’s home, you are taking apart what’s left of their life. It also takes you back into the past and stirs feelings of grief and loss. Even if your relationship was not close with your parent(s), feelings are likely to come up because of their significant role in your life. If your relationship was troubled, disconnected, abusive or non-existent, you could feel sadness about not having had the type of relationship you wanted and deserved. If you had a good relationship and have lots of wonderful memories, you might be sad because you are left with a significant void in your life where once you shared good times, connected deeply, and made precious memories.

I am able to work well with clients who are in Carol’s situation, faced with the daunting, emotional, and overwhelming task of clearing out and closing a parent’s home because:

  • I went through that painful process myself when I cleared out my mom and step-father’s home four years ago. I learned so much about what it takes to get through that process and the realities of that type of mammoth undertaking.
  • I have had LOTS of experiences moving through my own grief (parents’ divorce, my divorce, the death of my mother, healing childhood wounds). In all but one of those situations, it was with the presence of support from a trained professional that I was able to heal and return to build a life of meaning.
  • I have a M.S. in counseling, so I know what works to help who people who are experiencing grief and uncomfortable feelings and move through feelings that could send them fleeing for a safer, more emotionally comfortable place. Most professional organizers without that level of training and experience aren’t comfortable helping people who feel sad, mad, hurt and the host of other feelings that tend to show up when clearing out a parent’s home.
  • I enjoy the opportunity and challenge of being present with people when strong feelings hit. I have both knowledge and experience as a counselor and Certified Organizer Coach® that have taught me that what works in that type of situation is to acknowledge the feelings that have presented and to inquire about the feelings, which offers the person the chance to stay with the feelings, explore what triggered the feelings, and ultimately manage them or release them so forward progress is possible.
  • I have 18+ years experience as a professional organizer doing this kind of work.

How does this work affect me? I feel so grateful for the honor of being allowed to be part of a person’s healing. I leave that type of situation knowing I made a significant difference for the person whether they acknowledge it or not, a difference that has the potential to lighten their emotional load a bit in a VERY complicated and difficult situation. I also know I have been part of helping them getting on with their lives after a significant loss. I feel very good about paying it forward, helping others as I have been helped.

If you find yourself faced with the challenge of clearing out a parent’s home, consider me a resource who can help you step into and move through the emotionally difficult parts of that process. I can be part of that process in any way that works for you. I can visit the home and recommend strategies for how to get the job done. I can do spot clearing with you in areas you tend to avoid as I did with Carol, areas that stir painful feelings or that seem too overwhelming because of the quantity items to be cleared, the messiness or nastiness of the space, and/or your difficulty making decisions. Or, I can help you with the whole project by working with you to break it down into doable bite-sized pieces, working with you hands-on so you can move through the process without getting stuck due to feelings associated with overwhelm, grief, and other strong emotions, and identifying other potential resources for support if needed.

Closing down a parent’s home can be a healing process with the right kind of support. Check out my website, call me at 804-730-4991 or email me at debbie@debbiebowie.com to learn more about how my support can help you clear your parent’s home more quickly and easily. 

Women Get Stuck! Is This You?

Stuck means not moving. All women experience times in their lives when they just can’t seem to

Self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and fear can keep an artist stuck. Taking action is an act of courage.

muster the motivation to take action to do the things they need to do to maintain a manageable life and/or the things they want to do to support mental, physical, emotional and spiritual growth and create a fulfilling life.

Some women get stuck more easily. I work with three categories of women who get stuck.

  1. Women in transition. When you experience a death or loss, like the death of a spouse, parent or child, or a divorce, it is quite common to get stuck in grief, stuck in an old role and paralyzed when you have to rebuild your life following a significant loss. Other transitions include retiring from a job, becoming an empty nester, changing careers.
  2. Women Artists. Writers experience writer’s block when ideas and words will not flow. Artists want to paint, draw, sculpt, etc., but can’t make themselves show up on a regular basis to do their work. Musicians have the best intentions to practice their instruments, but keep choosing other things to do.
  3. Women with ADHD. Women with ADHD can have great difficulty initiating action, particularly action that is perceived to be boring, not fun and not stimulating. They are also prone to rumination, getting stuck spinning in negative thoughts that keep them stuck. Transitions, getting into action and out of action, are difficult.

What these categories of women have in common is that each is probably stuck because they hold negative perspectives about themselves, their abilities and what’s possible for them. Limiting beliefs, fear, and self-criticism block forward motion. Fear keeps them disconnected from awareness of their strengths and gifts that could be used to get unstuck. Most aren’t even aware of how their negative thoughts and fears block action.

Coaching is a process that will get you unstuck. You will partner with a coach for support to generate awareness of what is keeping you stuck, what your strengths, values and needs are, and to strategize ways ways to take action to achieve your goals. The real gift of coaching is the opportunity to plan and take action with accountability. Knowing that your coach believes in you and is supporting forward movement can motivate you to reach for goals that previously seemed out of reach.

If you are stuck, take the first step. Schedule a 30 minute FREE Back on Track coaching session with me. In that session you will test drive coaching to see if it could be a good fit for you to get unstuck and moving in the direction of your goals and dreams.

Women In Transition — A Growth Opportunity

You are trying to get back on your feet after a painful divorce. You are planning to retire and are contemplating how to spend your time in retirement. You are grieving the loss of a spouse or a child. You want to quit an unfulfilling job to pursue work that is more in alignment with your values and passions. You are recovering from an illness and know that you need to make significant life changes in order to live a healthy life. But, how can you get through the challenges of these periods that seem so daunting?

Life transitions are times of change whether by choice or circumstance. Typically they are periods in your life when you feel uncertain, perhaps disconnected from yourself, and sometimes stuck because it’s scary to go from a familiar way of being into something new and unknown. However, transitions are also times of opportunity to create new awareness about what really matters to you, your choices for forward movement, and possible steps to take to get to a better place.

Times of transition are often accompanied by swings of emotion — fear, overwhelm, excitement, depression. It is not uncommon to get hung up in negative emotions, to complain about how long transitions last and how lost you are, to feel frustrated with a lack of mental clarity and, to be stuck.

Many people in transition will isolate themselves from others. They mistakenly believe they have to find their way on their or that getting help from others means they are weak. Going it alone only prolongs this uncomfortable state of being. Also, in isolation you are more likely to become wedded to inaccurate perceptions and limiting beliefs because there is no one to question them or offer alternative ways of thinking and doing.

One way to navigate through transitions more quickly with fewer stuck points is to hire a coach. A coach can help you reconnect with yourself, identify your options for forward movement, help you develop a plan of action, and provide emotional support as you find your way into a new segment of your life journey.

Are you in transition? If so, make this time of transition a productive period of growth and personal development by hiring a coach to walk with you as you find your way through uncertain and unsettled times to a better place. I offer a FREE 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session so you can experience the benefits of being coached. Schedule your frees session now!

Artists: Improve Your Studios for Success

Artists need inspiration and motivation to keep producing art. Years ago I visited a number of

A studio housed in a garage.

artists’ studios to get a sense of the environments in which artists work. As a feng shui practitioner who appreciates the feng shui principal that what you have in your space and how it’s arranged affects what happens in the space, it was interesting to see that many artists work in very utilitarian spaces that are cluttered, disorganized, and not very inviting. The priority in many studios seems to have been to expend creative energy on art pieces rather than on the space itself.

Feng shui teaches that if you make a space a personal paradise, an attractive space with many sources of positive energy (light, color, plants, treasures, useful supplies, etc.) and few sources of negative energy (clutter, piles of paper, trash, supplies you no longer use, etc.) and utterly comfortable, you will attract more good into your life (motivation to create, increased productivity, commissions, ideas, opportunities to show your work, resources, etc.). Given that reality, it would behoove artists to invest more time, energy, and creativity into transforming their utilitarian studios into luscious places to work.

I recently had the opportunity to do a feng shui consultation for Kymberly Keniston-Pond, an artist and wellness consultant whose studio was in a small shed in her backyard. As most sheds are, it was unpainted on the inside and had no windows, a pretty grim, utilitarian space much better suited for storing yard tools than for creating art.

I initially questioned Kymberly about the idea of trying to make that space her center of creativity. It was so small, dark and uninviting. When it became apparent that the shed was her only option for a studio, we began brainstorming ways to make the space work for her. We identified areas of the space for specific activities and discussed furnishings, shelving and storage options. I made recommendations for color on the walls, for softening hard edges, for bringing a sense of the outside into the space, and for my client making the space her own. When I left that day, Kymberly had a long list of steps to take to create a studio that she’d love to come to every day.

As happens when I do a feng shui consultation, months passed with no word from Kymberly. I

The beginning — adding color to the walls and fabric in the eaves to soften the hard edges of the rafters.

often never hear from feng shui clients and wonder if they followed my recommendations but never let me know the results of their efforts, or if they never took action at all. In this case, I was lucky to receive an email from my Kymberly eight months after our consultation sharing her progress once she got a majority of the work done.

I share the following photos to show you an example of what can be done if you turn your creative energies to making your studio a personal paradise for your work. What you see may not appeal to you, but remember, it is an expression of Kymberly’s personal tastes and choices. Your expression of YOUR personal paradise will be very different.

Using fabric for visual interest, to balance the hard edges of the walls and shelving, and to screen art supplies stored below.

The specific color and content choices are not as important as the fact that Kymberly created a space she loves, one that inspires her engage in creative activities. Here’s what she had to say about the space,

“I love going into my ‘korner’. . . it makes me smile, and I feel instantly relaxed, happy, nurtured. I am looking for a beautiful chandelier to hang above my table. I will know it when I see it. I painted the covers of the florescent lights, hung some awesome Edison ones, and when I get back I will be taking down the florescent ones and hanging two more strings of Edison. . . that’s the lighting I’m most comfortable with.”

As you can see, her studio is a work in progress, one that she has enjoyed creating and now

A framed outdoor scene creates the sense of a window. A work table is transformed into an object of visual interest by covering it with with colorful fabric.

enjoys working in.

What can you do to make your studio a place that draws you in and motivate you to create more art?

A sign with the name of Kymberly’s business and a swinging chair with colorful pillows add whimsy and a lighthearted, warm energy to the space.

ADHD: Benefits of Planning with a Coach

I coach women with ADHD. Part of the coaching process is to identify an action at the end of

Planning with a coach increases the chances that you will take action.

each session to do between sessions. In the next session I check back with the client about what happened. Did they take action? If so, what happened? What did they learn? What worked? What didn’t? If they didn’t take action I inquire about what happened that prevented taking action. Did they forget to take action? Did they choose not to take action? If so, how did they reach that decision? If they didn’t take action, what else were they doing?

It is not uncommon for ADHD clients to return to sessions and report that they didn’t do what they said they would do. Why not? Often they committed to an action but didn’t do anything to hold that commitment in memory. It was as if the action was a floating leaf that touched down because it sounded like a good idea, and then blew away out of awareness just as quickly.

I initially worked with clients on how to more effectively anchor commitments in order to increase the possibility of follow through. However, just remembering what they’d committed to do wasn’t enough to motivate them to take action.

So, I went a step further and asked questions like, “When will you do this?” “What’s the benefit of completing this task?” “What steps will you need to take to make this happen?” “What barriers could prevent you from doing this?” “What resources are available to help you do this?” When I’ve helped clients plan in this way, they were more likely to report the following week that they had taken action. It seems that the planning we did together helped to anchor their commitment in memory and made doing the action easier to face and follow through on.

Planning is a process that can be difficult for people with ADHD due to executive function deficits. Saying you will do a task is easy. Breaking a task down into step-by-step actions, considering the when, where, what, how and what ifs necessary to take action are not. Planning done in partnership with a supportive other can be just the mental fuel necessary to take action.

If you have ADHD and have difficulty starting and completing important tasks, perhaps difficulties with planning are blocking action. Coaching is an option that could help you practice planning and take action with support. To learn more about how you can be more productive with coaching, schedule a FREE 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session with me.

Plan With Your Big Rocks In Mind

Planning is something we all do every day. We plan what to wear based on what we will be

What are your big rocks?

doing during the day. We plan where we’ll go when we get in the car. We plan to meet friends for dinner. We plan what activities we’ll do in a day. We plan how we’ll spend our time. Short-term planning is second nature for most of us. It helps us go from point A to B with as little hassle and as much ease as possible. No big deal, right?

It depends. Are you making those plans with full awareness of what you are scheduled to do? With an eye on the big picture of your priorities? If you aren’t, you run the risk of using your time for unimportant tasks that may be pleasurable, but not important in the grand scheme of things.

Even short-term planning requires that you be conscious of what you really want, what is most important to get done, and how long it takes to do it. I call it focusing on your big rocks. Your big rocks are the things that matter most in your life — family, finances, career, service, relationships, etc. They are the center of your compass, the point from which ideally all action originates.

What are your big rocks? Many people fly through the busyness of life without pausing to identify what is most important to them.  If you are unclear about what your big rocks are, schedule a 30-60 minute free Back on Track phone coaching session with me to discover what they are and how you can make them part of your daily planning.

When you plan your days with your big rocks in focus, you are more likely to live a life of meaning and purpose. Plan your days with your big rocks in mind!

Planning Is NOT a Swear Word!

Don’t you cringe a little when you read the word planning? I do! When I think of planning I think of work. Planning is work because it requires that I focus my thoughts, and think about and organize the activities required to achieve my goals. It takes mental effort!

However, when I think about my life and what gives it quality and meaning, so much of it is the result of planning. For example, I am in love with yoga. It feeds my soul and tones my body. The only way I am able to do it 3-5 times per week is because I found a cost-effective way to pay for it and I scheduled yoga as an appointment on my calendar. Both activities took thought and planning.

In our world of instant gratification, frenetic activity and so many opportunities to be spontaneous, planning can seem at odds with the flow of life. It can seem boring and like a waste of time. Is it boring or is it annoying because we must slow down so we can focus to do it well? I have a hunch that much resistance to planning happens because people don’t want to change their speed or the level of stimulation that comes from a more fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants approach to life.

Without planning you are more likely to drift along, under-function and land somewhere you never intended to go. Planning is the best way I know to ensure that you accomplish your goals, reach your dreams and create the life you really want.

Your Home Office Is the Brain of Your Home

Home offices are rarely treated with the respect they deserve. They often become dumping grounds for everything paper and more. When you consider that, at the very least, your home office is often the administrative and financial center of the home, you would think that they’d all be in tip top shape. But, they’re not. In fact, most of those I’ve seen are not. Why is that?

Here are some possibilities:

  1. That room may accurately reflect your relationship with your financial situation.
  2. It could reflect that the room was never set up for optimal functioning, either because you did not make time for the set up or because you really didn’t know how to set it up.
  3. The home office may accurately reflect your aptitude for organizing paper.
  4. The home office may be a reflection of your inability to be disciplined about doing tasks that are detailed, boring and time-consuming.
  5. Perhaps you don’t have a grasp on the connection between the condition of your home office and your financial well-being and peace of mind.
  6. You have a very full plate, and “tending” to the home office requires more mental energy than you can muster on a regular basis.
  7. Maintaining an orderly, clutter-free home office simply is not a priority.

Home offices also often have the unfortunate fate of being multipurpose rooms. They are often the leftover bedroom used for housing many functions like bill-paying, records storage, gift-wrapping center, sewing room, guest room and play room. As a multipurpose room, its significance as a hub for financial and administrative management for the household is often diminished. Plus, setting up and maintaining order in a multipurpose room is much more challenging than having a room devoted to household paperwork and finances.

Where to begin? The fate of the home office starts with understanding its importance relative to other rooms in the house. If you run a business from a home office, its significance is apparent. But, if your home office is just “paper central” (a place to store papers and pay bills), plus a few other functions like the gift-wrapping center and guest room, it’s harder to get clear about its purpose.


Perhaps this reminder will help: THE HOME OFFICE IS THE BRAIN OF THE HOME.
Let me repeat that again: your home office is the brain of your home. It is the place where essential information is stored relating to finances and running your household (and your life!).  Like your brain, when it is organized and up to par, you can handle whatever life throws at you. If your brain is foggy and unfocused, it’s difficult to make decisions and navigate life smoothly. So too with the home office. A cluttered, messy home office not only radiates negative energy, but presents problems when you need to lay your hands on important records in a timely fashion.

So your first step in creating a home office that you enjoy is to shift your mindset. Start thinking about your home office as the brain of your home . . . focused, clear, and open to receiving new opportunities (including financial growth!).

Clear Greeting Card Clutter

Greeting cards flow into our lives as we move through them in an endless stream. What do you do with all of them? If you haven’t established personal guidelines for which cards to keep and which to toss, you likely have greeting card clutter.

When I was a young adult I tended to keep most of my greeting cards because they were an indication that people cared about me. It wasn’t until I was about 40 that I noticed that the cards I was holding onto were taking a significant amount of space in my little home. I simply had to do something different with my cards.

As I looked through my cards I realized that many of them weren’t even very important to me. They were organized and carefully stored, but, was I re-reading them? No. When began to consider my opens for reducing my greeting card clutter I re-read many of them and noticed that most of them didn’t say anything every important, anything that stirred good feelings in me. The quantity of them actually felt very heavy.

When I became aware that not all greeting cards are created equal in importance, I thought to myself, “Whose cards mean the most? Which ones would I want to re-read when I’m 80?” The answer at that time was very simple. My husband’s cards and my some of my mother’s cards. Mom and Bob were the most important people in my life. Their love and their words meant the most to me. For many years I only saved cards from Mom and Bob.

I now continue to keep all of Bob’s cards and letters. They are truly precious and remind me of his funny sense of humor and way of being as well as his love for me. When Mom was alive I kept only those cards that had a personal note of love, thanks or that demonstrated her personality and what mattered to her. She often wrote about what she had for dinner or did during the week. That content had no special value to me. I let those notes go.

I now keep cards from clients, friends, family members and my dad that have a note that really connects with my heart and/or helps me acknowledge my own worth and accomplishments.

What greeting cards are most important to you? Which ones lift your spirit and light up your heart? Those cards have the best energy. They are the ones that are worth keeping to remind you of the love in your life.

Procrastination: Normal vs. Problematic

Not all procrastination is created equal. We all procrastinate, probably every day. It is very normal to put off doing tasks for a variety of reasons: you don’t feel like doing the task; you’d rather do something else; the task will take longer than the time available; you don’t have enough mental energy for the task; the task is too hard to do on your own; the task is not the most important thing to do at the moment, etc. The list goes on and on.

It is normal to procrastinate. You can’t do everything at once. You must make choices about how to use your time and energy. I might put off taking the garbage out tonight or put off taking suitcases to the attic. If I wait to do those tasks for a day or two, there will only be a minor inconvenience. That is what I call “normal” procrastination.

If those tasks are not accomplished for a week, and other tasks are put off as well, what began as minor visual and perhaps olfactory disturbances could grow into a more serious problem, one that will take much more time and energy to address. What started as normal procrastination then becomes “problematic” procrastination.

Normal procrastination is usually short-term, involves small, less important tasks, and results in few serious consequences. It becomes problematic procrastination when small tasks are postponed more frequently and for longer periods of time or when important tasks (e.g. those that affect finances, job, relationships, health) are put off to the point of crisis. The price for problematic procrastination can be very high — loss of reputation, job difficulties or loss, relationships challenges or divorce, deterioration or loss of residence, financial difficulties (problems with the IRS, bankruptcy, ruined credit), and health deterioration to name a few.

We all procrastinate. Do you procrastinate in a way that has no serious consequences or does it lead to challenges in many areas of your life? If you would describe your procrastination as problematic, your procrastination could be caused by ADHD. ADHD is a mechanical problem in the brain whose symptoms include difficulty with starting tasks (procrastinating), particularly those that are boring and uninteresting.

If you have ADHD or think you have it, treatment for the disorder can help you procrastinate less and get more done. Schedule a FREE 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session today to discuss your procrastination challenges and options for help to procrastinate less and be more productive.

Pantry Design Creates Clutter

Not all pantry designs are created equal! I can honestly say that this pantry is the

The least functional pantry I've ever organized.

The least functional pantry I’ve ever organized.

worst design of any pantry I have re-organized in my 18+ years working as a professional organizer.

First, I was shocked at how narrow the space was. It was like a dim, dark tunnel. I immediately felt irritable and claustrophobic when I stuck my head in it. It’s the kind of space most people would want to avoid.

To make things worse, the shelves were set back from the door about 18-24 inches, enough space to necessitate putting my whole body in the closet to access the shelves. Plus, the shelves were very deep — a recipe for terrible visibility and losing sight of half of the shelves’ contents. The only truly useful space, where items could be easily seen, was across the front of each shelf. The narrowness of the pantry made that space very limited.

The least functional linen closet I've organized.

The least functional linen closet I’ve organized.

This pantry reminded me of the least functional linen closet I have ever worked in. It seemed like a left over space that the builder decided to make a pantry. Clearly it was designed by someone who had little or no experience with food storage.

The whole time I was reorganizing this pantry I was thinking that the work I was doing was almost pointless. It would take no time at all for it to again become a disorganized mess. Why? Because it’s too hard to access the supplies and easily replace them where they belong. It would be pretty understandable that people putting things away might be inclined to pitch things into the space and slam the door shut hoping that nothing would tumble out before the door closed.

Why do I share all this? This pantry was a “Can you believe this?” experience for me. Sometimes I just need to tell others about this kind of experience. In this case it was not a nightmare created by a client. Rather, it was a nightmare created by poor design that left my client with few options for improvement.

What Is Your Clutter Telling You?

Clutter is information. It has a story to tell if you can get past its negative, dscn0013overwhelming energy. When I walk into a client’s home or office I look for the story that the clutter tells. Some of the stories go like this:

  • I’ve got too much on my plate to have the time to attend to my space.
  • I have too much stuff.
  • I shop for entertainment, and to relieve stress.
  • I got behind in cleaning up and doing daily maintenance tasks, and could not catch up.
  • My job takes everything out of me, and I don’t have the energy to do daily maintenance tasks like putting things away, cleaning up after myself, sorting mail.
  • I’ve had a very stressful week.
  • I’ve been through a very tough time in my life (e.g. caregiving responsibilities for parents, deaths of family members, health problems, etc.) and couldn’t hold everything together.
  • I really have no idea how to set up and maintain an organized space.
  • I am sentimental. It’s hard for me to get rid of anything that reminds me of a special person or time in my life.
  • I have ADHD and have never been organized. I can’t make myself clean up after myself, put clothes away regularly and go through my mail.
  • I need more help from others, particularly those who contribute to the mess.
  • I spend very little time at home, and when I’m home I just drop things and plop on the sofa.
  • I have no clue how to manage all the paper pouring into my house.
  • I have too many responsibilities and need support from others to maintain an organized home.
  • I am overwhelmed by how much clutter there is and don’t know how to start clearing.

Do you identify with any of those stories? You cannot address a clutter problem if you aren’t conscious of the story it tells. For example, if your story is, “I shop for entertainment and to relieve stress,” that awareness makes it possible for you to focus on finding other ways to reduce stress and have fun.

If your story is that you have ADHD and have never been organized, you can research what works for people with ADHD to get clearing done and sustain order in their space.

If the truth is you have a family of five and are the only one who is trying to create and sustain order, you can acknowledge the impossibility of doing that successfully and negotiate with family members for their participation in tasks that keep your house organized and feeling good.

Instead of beating yourself up because there is clutter or avoiding it, look at it with curiosity. Tease out the story it tells. Then take steps to change the story.

Stories are much more interesting than piles of clutter. Focusing on your story can motivate you to make take action. Be aware that many of the above stories, particularly those that involve large quantities of clutter, can only be changed with some type of outside help. Hire a professional organizer or enlist supportive friends and/or family members to help you change your story.

Counter Knife Blocks = A Feng Shui Kitchen “No! No!”

One of the most common feng shui errors that I find in kitchens is the knife-block-563633_640presence of a knife block on the counter. You know, a block of wood holding knives of various sizes. It’s a very convenient way to store knives so they are easily accessible for use.

When you assess the feng shui of a space, it’s important to consider safety. Knives that are located out in the open in a knife block are not considered safe because they are so accessible. They could easily be used as weapons. A block of knives is a block of negative energy because of its potential for harm.

You are probably thinking, “If I can’t store them on the counter, how should I store them for easy access?” You have several options. First, you can put the block out of sight. Make room on a shelf in one of your lower cabinets for the knife block. It’s important that you be able to reach the knives easily. If accessing it is the least bit inconvenient, you will avoid getting knives that way. Then either the block will end up on the counter again, or the knives will be tossed into drawers.

A second option, and my preferred option, is to purchase a wooden drawer insert specifically for knives. Be sure to measure the drawer first so you are sure to buy an insert of the correct size. The insert will have slits to hold the knives, safely containing the blades out of harm’s way.

Removing a knife block from the counter is a great way to make a kitchen immediately feel more peaceful. Commit to peace and safety in your kitchen by removing your knife block from the counter.

China Cabinet: A Haven for Treasures or Trash?

Have you ever noticed who you’ve got living in your corner cupboard or chinaliving-room-670237__340 (1) cabinet?

In my work as a feng shui practitioner who works with people to clear clutter I help people identify and evaluate the energies throughout their homes and offices to make those energies conscious and ensure that they were positive and supportive. Positive and supportive energies attract more positive experiences and good into your life.

I once worked with a man who had been divorced for many years. His feelings about his ex-wife could best be described as hostile. When we reached the dining room he was startled to realize that his wedding china, which was prominently displayed both inside and outside of his corner cupboard, held the energy of his marriage and of his ex-wife. Needless to say, we discussed the significance of those pieces and removed them from their prominent location.

Items that are stored in china cabinets, buffets, and corner cupboards in dining rooms are often loaded with associations with family members and past events. It’s where we store our “good stuff.”

Take a look at your dining room storage cabinet. I’ll bet you find china that belonged to your mother or grandmother. Or, perhaps you have crystal you got when you got married. Or, there may be candle holders from a dear friend. Rarely does a dining room storage cabinet hold things devoid of associations.

When an item brings back the memory of a family member, it holds the energy of that person. It’s as if that person has taken up residence in your space. If the item holds the energy of a significant event, the event will replay in your mind when you see the item. If you are not in good relationship with the person whose energy is held in place by an object, or if your memory of a significant event is not positive, those objects are holding negative energies associated with the person or event.

Check out each item in your china cabinet, buffet or corner cupboard. Pay attention to the thoughts that immediately pop into your mind. If an item has a strong positive association you could hear, “Oh, I love that! It’s the gravy boat we used every year for Christmas,” or “That’s Nana’s salt and pepper shaker. She was so special.”

When an item holds a strong negative association or has no significant association at all you might hear, “That ugly thing was so important to Mom. It belonged to Aunt Thelma. And, she was not a nice woman!” or “I don’t know where that came from. It isn’t nearly as nice as some of my other pieces.”

Also pay attention to your energy. Items with good energy are likely to lift your spirits and elicit a warm feeling inside. They often bring a smile to your face. Items that hold memories of painful times or stressed relationships are likely cause your energy to drop and can register as a groan, a frown, or as an uneasy feeling.

Make your dining room storage cabinets a repository of treasures, not trash. Save items with the best associations, the best energy. Donate the rest!

 Tips for Finding Calm Out of Home Office Chaos

I walked into a home office lined with piles. Everywhere I looked there were piles100_0674 of papers and other miscellaneous stuff. My first instinct was to turn around and return to my client’s living room where I felt so much more comfortable. That’s the truth! Yes, even professional organizers want to run away from piles of stuff and the multitude of decisions they entail if they are ever to be dissolved.

Instead of running, however, I got on my knees on the floor and started looking for a place to begin.

You see, there’s usually a way into a cluttering mess like that. What am I talking about? It’s as if something is holding all that chaos in place that if discovered and dismantled would offset the negative energy of the paper challenge and shift energies from negative to positive, making the clutter seem less daunting.

Finding the calm out of chaos.

In this case the key was a box of books on CD. I found it when I was examining the contents of the piles looking for big chunks of things that could be easily moved. I asked my client where she keeps her books on CD. She laughed and said, “Oh, everywhere!” I happen to know that she is a seeker, someone who loves learning and who really values her books on CD. And there they were, buried in her neglected piles. I said, “We’ve got to create one space for all your CDs! They are too important to be floating around!” She agreed and allowed me to search out a spot.

Lest you think I never have doubts about whether I’m doing the right thing in the right moment, you need to know that I did find myself wondering if working on the CDs was the right place to begin. I’ve done this long enough, however, to know that trusting my intuition works better than acting on my doubts. So, I kept going.

Getting the ball rolling and creating a “new order”.

The CDs came to rest in bins on shelves in one corner of her office. The act of organizing and placing her CDs all together in one location had an amazing effect on our ability to make progress in that cluttered room. Not only did it get the ball rolling, but the movement of that one chunk of the mess shifted the energy in that home office from stagnation to movement, from negative to positive. After moving the CDs to a real home, my client and I just plowed through the rest of those piles in record time. We  literally felt something akin to a high from the positive energy we had generated by creating a new order for items of real significance.

Are you avoiding an organizing challenge in your home office, perhaps one that is complicated by the negative energy of paper?

See if you can find the key that will unlock the door to your resistance. By the way, it’s not likely to be paper! Look for something of significance that you can easily move and honor by giving it a home.

Then enjoy the ride!

Clutter: 5 Negative Effects on Personal Relationships

If you think your clutter affects only you, think again. Feng shui teaches that everything

Clutter creates conflict in relationships.

Clutter creates conflict in relationships.

is connected. Clutter in any area of your home affects the overall energy of the space. The overall energy of the space affects what happens in your life.

Clutter is negative energy. Negative energy repels good things from coming to you. It also can make you feel unsettled, irritable, anxious and overwhelmed. Clutter affects your energy and the energy of everyone in your space even if the clutter is yours alone. The energy of each family member affects their decision-making and behavior. 

Over the years I’ve worked as a professional organizer I’ve seen clutter affect personal relationships in the following ways:

  • It affects your relationship with yourself. Your self-esteem and your thinking and feelings about yourself suffer when you have clutter. You can be very self-critical, forever beating yourself up about your inability to clear your clutter. Clutter blocks you from accessing your gifts and strengths and effectively utilizing them in your life.
  • It affects your relationship with your spouse. Spouses of a cluttered person who are bothered by the condition of the environment express their discomfort in judgment, negative comments, name calling, anger and irritability. Even if your spouse is not openly judgmental, the negative energy of the clutter creates a charged environment in which it is easier to become irritated, agitated and at odds with each other. Clutter also keeps you unconscious of the state of your relationship, it’s growth or lack of growth, issues that need to be addressed, and changes that need to be made for the sake of the relationship. Failure to address clutter challenges can lead to divorce.
  • It affects your relationship with your children. Clutter is distracting. Feng shui teaches that the energy of each item in your space talks to you. Having clutter, therefore, is like having hundreds of little conversations going on all at once. All that noise keeps you distracted, unable to have the mental clarity needed to parent effectively. It also makes it more difficult to stay calm, grounded and make good decisions. In a cluttered space you are more likely to be reactive, saying and doing things that are hurtful to your children.
  • It affects family relationships. The negative energy in cluttered spaces makes everyone less tolerant and more easily irritated and reactive. It distracts from what is really important to sustain healthy family connections. Clutter keeps you focused on what’s wrong, what doesn’t feel good rather than on fostering and investing in positive connections.
  • It affects your relationships with friends and relatives. You may be embarrassed by the condition of your space to the point where you avoid asking people over to visit, to share a meal or to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Barring people from your home can disconnect you from social contacts and eventually result in isolation.

What can you do today to improve your relationships by clearing clutter? If you cannot clear clutter on your own despite your best efforts, email me today to schedule a free 30 minute coaching consultation to determine your next step to clear clutter for the sake of your relationships.

Letting Go of Memorabilia: A Heart Challenge

FullSizeRenderLetting go is hard to do. Recently I experienced this first hand when I took my mother’s sterling silverware to an auction house to be sold. I had decided to let go of the silver because I HATE polishing silver. I had had to polish that silver every Thanksgiving starting about age 12. That was a negative association! I also don’t live a lifestyle in which I’d use it regularly, and I am committed to letting go of things I don’t love or use. Plus, converting it to money would be helpful to me.

What took me by surprise was the wash of feelings I felt when the woman at the auction house opened the box. I stood over it contemplating the action I was about to take. Memories of more than the burden of having had to polish the silver flooded in.

That silver was only pulled out for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I loved the holidays and the opportunities they presented to fix special food and spend time with extended family. Holidays were also times when Mom and I enjoyed working together to prepare yummy meals. I felt particularly close to her at those times. Now that I am losing Mom bit by bit to Alzheimer’s, it is that much harder to part with things that remind me of our times together. The silver not only held the negative association of having to polish silver, it also held the energies of those treasured memories in my childhood and of my special connection with my mother at those times.

What would you have done had you been in my shoes?  Would you have grabbed the silver and run from the auction house? That certainly was one choice. I did run that scenario through my head when I felt a tug in my heart and a tear threaten to emerge as I filled out the necessary papers. But, my gut said, “Let it go. You won’t use it. It will take up valuable real estate in your small house.” I made the decision to sell it at auction. To ease my heart a bit I shared with the woman helping me that it was hard to let the silver go because of the memories it stirred in me. I also took several serving spoons that I knew I would use regularly to hold the energies of those special memories from childhood. Then, I left the silver behind.

When I was safely in my car I burst into tears. The process of letting go of the silver unleashed deep sadness that I didn’t anticipate. The sadness was not about parting with the silver. Had I gone back and reclaimed it, I still would have felt sad. The sadness was about those special times being long gone, and about the impossibility of having anything like them again. I didn’t need to keep all of the silver to hold on to my special memories. A few serving pieces would do the trick and would fit into my tiny house.

When you struggle to part with memorabilia that elicits strong feelings in you, resist the urge to automatically keep the items. People will do that to avoid facing the uncomfortable feelings. Check out the source of your feelings. And, consider whether there is some way to hold onto the positive energies of those things without keeping all of them. Some people take photos of items to hold their significance and memories. Others do what I did, and choose one or two of the best items to hold the memories and let go of the rest.

When I let go of Mom’s silver, I took a step forward in my life. Rather than blindly clinging to those things, I chose to honor the memories they held in a way that honors my current values and needs. This weekend I used the serving spoons and smiled.

ADHD Coaching Benefits Those Ready for Change

As I reflect on the progress of my ADHD coaching clients, both individual and group clients, the main factors that affected their progress were a compelling desire for life to be better, and their readiness for change. Those who have been most successful really were “done” with bumping along in constant stress and environmental chaos by themselves. They committed to a coaching relationship for support to get to a better place. Their commitment to making changes to improve their lives and their spaces made them willing to do the uncomfortable work of self-examination and doing things differently than what their ADHD brain dictated.

Change is hard. Habits are hardwired into the brain. Changing habits that don’t serve you requires creating new neural pathways. Those pathways are formed by doing new behaviors over and over again. Repetition is boring to the ADHD brain, and often avoided. Keeping a new behavior in awareness is also hard for the ADHD brain. So, what does it take for a person with ADHD to make changes necessary to manage their ADHD symptoms?

People with ADHD are motivated by strong emotions. When they reach a point where they feel extremely tired, discouraged, and stuck in stress and misery, that extreme discomfort motivates a strong desire for change. Those with that compelling desire benefit most of coaching. It keeps them stepping out of their comfort zone and open to learning about their ADHD. It helps them move past their shame, anxiety and resistance to look at how their ADHD shows up to cause them problems, and helps them access their creativity to explore new ways of doing things.

ADHD coaching is a learning/action process that can result in positive changes in self-awareness, life management, and relationships. It only benefits those with a compelling desire for life to be better, and a willingness to change habits and behaviors that cause problems.

Are you ready for life to be different? How strong is that desire? If you are ready for long-lasting positive change, schedule a FREE 30 minute Back on Track sample phone coaching consultation now.

ADHD coaching can open new doors of awareness and lead you to life-altering changes when you are ready. 

9 Steps to Success: Keep the Big Goal In Mind

business challenge concept

Are your decisions and actions on target with your big goal?

What is most important to you? What do you really want? What’s the big picture you are trying to achieve with your efforts? It’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture by getting caught up in the minutia of day to day tasks, demands and responsibilities. You can very easily slip into passively reacting to whatever is in front of you instead of deliberately making choices in the direction you really want to go. Many people never pause long enough to figure out what is most important to them.

Over the years I’ve put time and attention into creating awareness of my big goal. So far I’ve come up with this: to live a simple, peaceful, life that feeds my heart with deep connection with others, time in nature, opportunities to express my creativity, opportunities to travel to places I really want to go like Alaska and the British Isles, opportunities to have new, fun adventures, and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others.

When I get lost in the busyness of day to day living I remind myself of my big goal, what’s most important. When I have choices to make about  work I will do or activities I will participate in, I refer back to my big goal. Will  the work or activity that I’m contemplating feed my heart? Will it add unnecessary stress or will it be an exciting learning adventure? Will I be honoring my big goal by any choice I make? Like self-knowledge, my big goal is my compass, a reference point for decision-making and taking action.

For example, last year Bob and I committed to going to the Albequerque Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico with a good friend. That decision was in alignment with my big goals of pursuing opportunities to travel and having new adventures. The challenge was figuring out how to fund the trip. After considering various options, I decided to offer pet sitting in our home to earn the extra cash. I chose petsitting because I LOVE dogs and the adventure of working with dogs. Being with dogs could feed my heart as well as my pocketbook! It was a good fit with my big goal.

What will you do to determine your big goal? Coaching is a great way to pause, create space and get support to develop awareness about your big goal, that which is most important to you. Remember, it probably won’t magically appear without some deliberate focus and effort. But the quality of your life could depend on it!

Coaching Accountability Leads to New Learning: A Chilling Story

One of the great benefits of coaching is the opportunity of accountability. In each session the iStock_000010338713Smallclient and coach strategize actions that the client commits to taking between sessions to help her make progress on achieving her goals. When the client returns for the next session the coach checks in with her about her action item. Whether or not she completed the task, there is always an opportunity for learning. It’s fascinating to see how the learning emerges for clients. Following is a particularly rich example of the type of learning that can happen when clients take action.

Sally (name changed to maintain confidentiality) had committed to “chilling” for 15 minutes every day. She knows how to work hard, but self-care and relaxing are difficult for her. She had been unable to make time for chilling at home, but was determined to do it on a trip to St. Thomas with her daughter and husband.

The first day Sally went to the pool with her family and lay on a lounge chair. She soon realized she had forgotten to bring a book or magazine. She had nothing to do. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? Not so for Sally! She felt extremely uncomfortable, like she was going to jump out of her skin. She looked around and noticed others doing nothing. They seemed just fine with relaxing. The contrast between the comfort of others around her and her discomfort made her aware that she really didn’t know how to relax and do nothing. She could see and feel how inexperienced and uncomfortable she is with doing nothing, with just relaxing.

Shortly thereafter she asked a staff member what people do on St. Thomas. The young woman responded, “Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax!” Given Sally’s memory of her difficulty relaxing at the pool, she took the young woman’s response as an indicator that she what had made her so uncomfortable at the pool, relaxing, was exactly what she was meant to do on this trip.

A day or two later Sally and her husband had some time to kill before a scheduled event. It was an excellent opportunity to practice chilling. They went to the lobby and hung out for four hours! When I asked Sally how she had managed that she told me that she had taken that staff member’s message to heart. Somehow it opened her up to have a different experience when there was nothing to do. Instead of twitching, she enjoyed watching people, nestling down in a comfy sofa, allowing her mind to wander and chatting with her husband. Her drive for doing was replaced by allowing rest, relaxation and just being with her loved ones in a lovely place. 

Sally’s commitment to chill led her to new awareness of how difficult it is for her to unplug and relax and to having a new, positive experience that motivated her to seek more such experiences. In our next coaching session Sally was more determined than ever to bring chilling into her time at home.

What new behavior would give you the opportunity to learn about yourself and open up the possibility for real change? Would having accountability offered in coaching make it more likely that you would take action and have a new experience? If you’re curious about this possibility, email me for a free 30 minute conversation about the opportunities of coaching for you.

Accountability Works to Accomplish Your Goals

“I walked all but one day last week!” Those were the words of a coaching client who had RoadToSuccessidentified the need for better self-care, but who had been unsuccessful at motivating herself to get off the sofa to walk. At first we discussed the possibility of her finding a walking buddy who would help motivate her to walk on a consistent basis. As we talked she decided that she could take care of both her dogs and herself by walking her dogs at least once per day. When we finished our call she had made a commitment to walk her dogs every day until our next session.

“What made it possible for you to honor your commitment to walk?” I asked. “Accountability!” she replied. “Just knowing I would be reporting back to you what I’d done helped me make myself walk.” Because she was not alone in process of changing her behavior, because there was someone in the wings supporting her efforts, she pushed through the resistance that would normally derail her efforts at getting exercise.

Coaching is a learning/action process. During coaching conversations clients have the opportunity to learn more about themselves. At the end of sessions they have the opportunity to commit to taking an action before the next session that will move them in the direction they want to go. 

My client wanted to feel better. Cognitively she knew that exercise would help her feel better. But, knowing it would help and actually engaging in a new behavior are two very different things. Adding the support and partnership of a coach and the opportunity of accountability that coaching affords made it possible for her to go from couch potato to daily walker. 

Would accountability help you take steps forward to achieve your goals?